Chiu: MTA Board Is Pointless -- And Supes Will Not Approve Muni Fare Hikes

Categories: Public Transit
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How much more can Muni take?
With the Municipal Transportation Agency today rolling out a plan to enact yet more service cuts and fare hikes, a frustrated Supervisor David Chiu questioned the rationale of even having an MTA Board and said that any plans for fare hikes will die in the Board of Supervisors chamber.

Chiu said that MTA's chronic inability to plug its revenue shortfalls by means other than fare hikes and service cuts "raises questions about Muni's governance." Chiu also joined a long list of those questioning the independence of the mayoral-appointed MTA Board (BART board member and transit advocate Tom Radulovich earlier told SF Weekly that the MTA Board "is not independent at all. What it's turned out to be be is a perfect cat's paw. It hides accountability rather than creates accountability. It makes the entire system less accountable. The Board looks like it's running the agency, but it's not. The person making the decisions, the person who should be responsible for the failure of MTA to meet any of its charter-mandated goals, is not held accountable.").

Chiu called for large-scale Muni reform to bring about "more independent commissioners. At this point, what's the point of even having the [MTA Board] if they simply rubber-stamp whatever the transit agency is saying?"

The supervisors have no say over cuts in Muni service -- other than wholesale eliminations of entire lines. They do, however, have a vote regarding fare hikes. And Chiu said more fare hikes will not be welcomed.

"I don't think there is going to be much appetite here at the board for future fare increases," continued Chiu. "Especially for the senior pass" -- one of the items being proposed today.

Last year, Chiu brokered a compromise Muni budget in which he unhappily accepted the "triple whammy" of fare hikes, service cuts, and "work orders" in which other departments pillaged the transit system. Another major element of the "compromise" was that Muni would "commit to analyzing" increased parking revenue. That turned out to be as farcical an endeavor as that non-commital commitment would lead you to believe it would. 

It appears the wrangling over Muni's next budget is already well under way. And it also appears Chiu is less willing to accept any "whammies" at all.

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